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The Home Selling Problem: Theory and Evidence

  • Antonio Merlo

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • François Ortalo-Magné

    ()

    (Wisconsin School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

  • John Rust

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Georgetown University)

This paper formulates and solves the problem of a homeowner who wants to sell her house for the maximum possible price net of transactions costs (including real estate commissions). The optimal selling strategy consists of an initial list price with subsequent weekly decisions on how much to adjust the list price until the home is sold or withdrawn from the market. The solution also yields a sequence of reservation prices that determine whether the homeowner should accept offers from potential buyers who arrive stochastically over time with an expected arrival rate that is a decreasing function of the list price. We estimate the model using a rich data set of complete transaction histories for 780 residential properties in England introduced by Merlo and Ortalo-Magné (2004). For each home in the sample, the data include all listing price changes and all offers made on the home between initial listing and the final sale agreement. The estimated model fits observed list price dynamics and other key features of the data well. In particular, we show that a very small “menu cost” of changing the listing price (estimated to equal 10 thousandths of 1% of the house value, or approximately £10 for a home worth £100,000) is sufficient to explain the high degree of “stickiness” of listing prices observed in the data.

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File URL: http://economics.sas.upenn.edu/system/files/13-006.pdf
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Paper provided by Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania in its series PIER Working Paper Archive with number 13-006.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 30 Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:13-006
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  1. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  2. John R. Knight, 2002. "Listing Price, Time on Market, and Ultimate Selling Price: Causes and Effects of Listing Price Changes," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 30(2), pages 213-237.
  3. John R. Knight & C. F. Sirmans & Geoffrey K. Turnbull, 1998. "List Price Information in Residential Appraisal and Underwriting," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 15(1), pages 59-76.
  4. David Genesove & Christopher Mayer, . "Loss Aversion and Seller Behavior: Evidence from the Housing Market," Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers 323, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Abdullah Yavaş, 1992. "A Simple Search and Bargaining Model of Real Estate Markets," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 20(4), pages 533-548.
  6. James Albrecht & Axel Anderson & Eric Smith & Susan Vroman, 2007. "Opportunistic Matching In The Housing Market," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 48(2), pages 641-664, 05.
  7. Merlo, Antonio & Ortalo-Magne, Francois, 2004. "Bargaining over residential real estate: evidence from England," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 192-216, September.
  8. Taylor, Curtis R, 1999. "Time-on-the-Market as a Sign of Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(3), pages 555-78, July.
  9. Salant, Stephen W, 1991. "For Sale by Owner: When to Use a Broker and How to Price the House," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 157-73, June.
  10. Michael A. Arnold, 1999. "Search, Bargaining and Optimal Asking Prices," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 27(3), pages 453-481.
  11. Abdullah Yavas & Shiawee Yang, 1995. "The Strategic Role of Listing Price in Marketing Real Estate: Theory and Evidence," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 23(3), pages 347-368.
  12. Zuehlke, Thomas W, 1987. "Duration Dependence in the Housing Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(4), pages 701-04, November.
  13. Norman G. Miller & Michael A. Sklarz, 1987. "Pricing Strategies and Residential Property Selling Prices," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 2(1), pages 31-40.
  14. Horowitz, Joel L, 1992. "The Role of the List Price in Housing Markets: Theory and an Econometric Model," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(2), pages 115-29, April-Jun.
  15. Han Bin Kang & Mona J. Gardner, 1989. "Selling Price and Marketing Time in the Residential Real Estate Market," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 4(1), pages 21-35.
  16. Donald Haurin, 1988. "The Duration of Marketing Time of Residential Housing," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 16(4), pages 396-410.
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